Chris Fernandez, Contributing Writer
Experiencing new elements of life can come in many forms. For some people, it is exploring their native country to gain a deeper understanding of their life as it is, but for others it can mean diving into a new world to experience the ways in which other cultures live. For example, many students take on study abroad programs so that they can experience other parts of the world. Paris Suzuki and Jessica Hoffmann are both examples of such students, having attended Technos International Week in Japan this past summer.
Recently the pair gave a Brown Bag presentation with their professor, Dr. Capron. Each member of the trio spoke on their individual experiences of the trip and what it meant to each of them.
Dr. Capron spent her time with the other professors who were attending the program. During her portion of the presentation, she showed photos of her time at a Japanese baseball game as well as a traditional tea ceremony. She experienced many different forms of traditional Japanese culture including dining, entertainment, and the spirituality of the land.
A majority of the presentation was given by the students, in which they talked about their experiences, including their homestays, where they lived with families in the area for a few days as well as their experience visiting multiple places in Japan. Both had many things to say about their individual experiences.
When asked about their most memorable moments, both alluded to the homestay they were able to partake in, with Jessica saying, “The most memorable part for me was definitely my homestay. My host family was so welcoming, and they truly cared about making me feel like a part of the family.”
Paris stated that “The most memorable part of my trip was the connections and friendships I made and continue to grow and develop even after the trip. Another memorable part was having the privilege to stay with my host family and being able to experience everyday life in Japan.”
Both also spoke about the impact that the trip had on them individually. Paris said that she “was so blessed to experience this trip.” Being an individual of both Mexican and Japanese descent, she considered herself rather well-versed in her Hispanic heritage, but this trip gave her the opportunity to immerse herself into the Japanese culture. She says, “It was truly a life-changing experience.”
Jessica saw herself growing more as an individual and becoming independent. She spoke about how the trip helped her notice subtle differences about another culture that she wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. She also was happy to see that she was able to navigate the trains alone, despite not understanding the language and she now feels more confident in unknown areas.
Both also imparted a great deal of information and tips, recommending other freshmen and sophomore students participate in the program. Paris says, “I recommend to really have a passion to go learn about Japan and to have an open mind. There are so many opportunities to experience new situations on this trip. Be open and be yourself!”
Jessica wants to “urge all freshmen and eligible sophomores to apply for next year and to definitely push themselves out of their comfort zone to do a homestay!”